Monday, May 10, 2010
VAMPIRES, THEN AND NOW…AND THEN
By Cassandra Pierce
The early descriptions of vampires that have come down to us through folklore, provide a stark contrast to today’s hunky, bare-chested bloodsuckers who no longer necessarily suck blood. It’s true that some of the old, scary vamps sometimes ran around shirtless (they might, for example, have escaped from their tombs clad only in a winding sheet), but in those cases they tended to show off discolored, cadaver-like rib cages rather than sculpted pecs and perfect six-pack abs. They also had terrible breath, bad skin, a hollow gaze, and a complete disregard for their human prey. Not exactly the stuff of sexy dreams.
Nowadays, in addition to having excellent hygiene, many vamps are also loathe to drink human blood, and those who aren’t rich (though most vampires are, probably thanks to earning centuries of compound interest) may work in life-saving professions like law enforcement or medicine. These new, sexy vamps move among humans (especially the heroine) almost the way the Greek gods were once thought to interact with their toga-clad subjects. Both alternately protect and seduce, throwing in a few punishments for the vain and wicked along the way.
As an ardent vampire fan and an avid reader and writer of vampire fiction, I couldn’t be happier with the current explosion of principled vamps. One thing does worry me, though. Now that the rehabilitation of the vampire from fearsome monster to ideal mate is complete, where do we go with the genre? I suspect that romance readers are already starting to get a little bored with detectives who use supersensory powers to solve crimes and avenging angels with archaic vocabularies. This might be why werewolf tales are starting to take up the shelf space formerly occupied by our favorite immortals.
One possibility might be a return to a traditional Gothic format, with tormented guys pacing the towers of possibly haunted manor houses. Another might be an even more extreme version of urban fantasy or steampunk, with futuristic settings and high-tech methods for the hero to slake his need for blood. There have been some rumblings about a line or two of Christian-centered vampire romances.
I doubt the vampire hero will ever devolve—Count Orlock, with his oversized bald pate and frighteningly long nails and teeth, just wouldn’t fit the bill in a romance novel. On the other hand, teen vamp dreamboats with pouty red lips and a passing resemblance to Elvis in the 1950s have already become the objects of parody (and cell phone commercials). The publishing industry will soon try to convince us that vampires are last year’s hot ticket, pushed out by shapeshifters and even zombies, but the truth is that they’ll be back on top—as soon as writers can find a new angle to sink our fanged friends’ lovely teeth into. That’s what immortality is all about.
Cassandra Pierce’s vampire e-romance, HEIRS TO DARKISLE, is currently available from Siren-Bookstrand: http://www.sirenpublishing.com/cassandrapierce/
Readers can also visit her website at www.cassandrapierce.com and check her out on Facebook!